Guatemala News Wrap Up

April wrapped on a fairly predictable note – the National Gun Registry program is faltering. While a little over 125,000 guns were registered and turned in, it’s estimated that nearly twice that amount are unregistered, leaving some 12,000+ illegal weapons in circulation. President Otto Pérez Molina came under fire for defending three members of his government who have each racked up over Q800,000 in travel expenses in the last three months. The trips are necessary, Molino says, to avoid becoming “isolated”.

May started with the moon being unusually close to the earth, sparking multiple renditions of the marimba classic “Luna de Xelajú”. Conflicting economic reports as foreign investment in Guatemala officially rose with no impact on unemployment and inflation officially dropped while many reported that the cost of living has skyrocketed. Guatemala’s Aurora Zoo got into crowdsourcing, asking facebook friends to come up with a name for their new hippopotamus and Guatemalan master painter Efraín Recinos was honored with an exhibition in Antigua to mark what would have been his 84th birthday. Recinos died in October of last year.

Bike fans were in heaven as the Vuelta Ciclística a Guatemala (a bike race around the country) began, passing through Xela in mid-May. More hydroelectric drama as residents of Barrillas in Huehuetenango department took to the streets to protest the construction of a dam.

The country went on orange alert as the Volcán de Fuego, on the outskirts of Antigua, showed signs of increased activity. Latest reports indicate eruptions every 20 minutes. In case you didn’t notice, Xela won the final of the 2012 Closing Season in the national football league, securing themselves a place in the CONCACAF champions league playoffs. School bullying came under the spotlight as a national campaign sought to eradicate the problem. Although over 200 cases of bullying are reported each year in Guatemala, there is no specific law against it.

Things got shaky in Xela as a tremor measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale shook nearby Retalhuleu. Bad news for the Guatemalan press as the country ranked 30 out of 35 for freedom of the press within the Americas. World tree day was celebrated all over the “land of the trees” (Guatemala’s original name) with thousands of schoolchildren planting millions of trees.

And longtime XelaWho groupie Philip Wilson made the news, featured by the Prensa Libre as a foreigner living in Xela. While the article got almost every possible fact wrong, it was accompanied by a nice pic of Felipe.

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